An Update from Manila

June 19 2009 | by

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IN RESPONSE to the many letters from you, dear readers, who quite understandably wish to be informed on the state of last year’s June 13 Project in favour of scavenger children in Metro Manila, we have decided to publish this short, and long overdue, update.

First of all, we wish to thank you for you generous contributions which enabled us to reach the €250,000 quota necessary to complete the project. The new building of the Shalom Learning Centre is now well underway at Muzon Taytay. This is the only private school that helps these deprived children from kindergarten to high school. So instead of spending a good part of their day sifting through refuse, these children are receiving moral, religious and also vocational training, and are also looked after healthwise.


We are using the present tense here because, though the building is as yet incomplete, on June 15, shortly after the Feast of our Saint, the new building was inaugurated in conjunction with the start of the 2009/2010 school year. The people at the Shalom know only too well their great debt to St Anthony’s Charities, and could not have chosen a different date for the inauguration. Lessons, in fact, are already been given in the classrooms in the first two floors of the new building. Why has this come about?

You may remember that the school was in danger of being closed down because parents were no longer able to pay for the rent being charged by the owners of the previous building. This is how the building of a new school on another location became the project we placed before your attention.

While the new building was under construction, students continued to attend lessons in the previous building. In the Philippines the school year begins in June, so, despite the fact that the rest of the building and the roof are still incomplete, it was decided to occupy the first two floors to prevent the children from losing lessons and to keep them away from the refuse.

From now on, the new school will guarantee a brighter future for at least 600 children and teenagers on a yearly basis. The school will offer them an opportunity to break free from the chains of poverty and marginalisation. The Shalom Learning Centre, however, knows it can do even more than this, and has decided to upgrade its outreach by opening its doors to greater numbers of children: once the remaining floors are completed the Shalom will not only be able to offer its services to the students from the original school, it will also be able to open its doors to other children who are currently wasting away in the slums or in the rubbish dumps.

The last shall be first

A young boy, in a letter written to Father Danilo Salezze, the General Director of the Messenger of Saint Anthony magazine who visited the site last year, is one of the first to envision this dream of a brighter future, “Who knows, maybe the next generation of politicians and administrators of the Philippines will hail from our school.” Father Danilo takes it all in and concludes, “It is a nice thought to cherish the idea that the last shall be first even in these far off islands. Last year, when I visited the cemetery of Navotas, where hundreds of families live among the tombs, a mother with a child in her arms gazed at me with a sad look in her eyes and said to me, ‘No school, no future’. I felt immense compassion for this helpless mother. It is a source of great joy and deep satisfaction for me to know that we managed to work together to provide hope for these people. Now I know that that mother’s plea for help did not go unanswered.”

Delays and obstacles

The new school is still under construction because there was a slight delay due to a rise in prices and because of difficulties encountered in finding the right building materials and qualified construction workers.

As yet the roof, the piping system, the wiring and the fittings are still missing, and we believe that the building will be completed towards the end of the year.

The children see the new building, which is slowly taking shape before their eyes, as a marvel. They know that some person’s love, a person unknown to themselves and living far away, is behind each of those bricks. They feel this, and write letters to the Director, “Dear Fr. Danilo,” writes Christian, “a thousand thanks, no, a million thanks. Your help will enable me to attend an excellent private school with affordable fees. My parents would never have been able to send me to such a school; they are sometimes not even able to buy the bare necessities of life for themselves. Life is very hard here! I will never forget your lovingkindness and generosity. When I grow up, I would like to become like you.”

Our new home

“Dear Father Danilo, here we are all boys with a great desire to learn and study. We would like to qualify as the ten best students. The teachers are urging us to do our best. Here I am developing my talents. Our teachers tell us that talents are gifts from God, and that they should be shared for the benefit of the community. This new building, I am sure, will not only make me happy, it will make all the other students happy as well. It is our new home. With love Aehron”.

Joselito is leaping with joy, “Now I have new teachers, new classmates and new friends. The school is made of walls, and our future is assured by these classrooms. It is a fresh start in life!”

We waiting for a detailed report of the inauguration, so we’ll keep you posted!


Updated on October 06 2016